"An Appeal for Sound Missionaries in Siam" by Boon Mark Gittisarn (December 29, 1949)

In the late 1940s, the Protestant churches in Thailand were in transition. American Presbyterian missionaries who had left during the war had returned and expected to pick up where they left off in 1941. However, they failed to sufficiently account for the wishes and expectations of Thai Christian leaders who had overseen their own churches for many years during the missionaries' absence during the war.
Boon Mark Gittsarn was one of those Thai leaders who was not content for missionaries to call the shots. Boon Mark left his denomination, the Church of Christ in Thailand, and resigned his pastorate at Second Church in Bangkok to start a new, independent church simply called Bangkok Church. The American Presbyterian Mission, which had founded and was heavily invested in the Church of Christ in Thailand, was headed in an ecumenical and modernistic direction that de-emphasized evangelism in favor of schools, hospitals, and development work.
But Boon Mark was all about evangelism and had strongly fundamentalist leanings. As indicated in the article below, at the end of 1949, Boon Mark connected with the International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC), an organization started by American fundamentalist Carl McIntire in direct opposition to the World Council of Churches. This connection provided for Boon Mark an avenue to amplify his complaints about the American Presbyterian Mission to a broader American Christian (fundamentalist) public who would have been sympathetic to his concerns. The article below was written by Boon Mark and appeared on page 4 of McIntire's newspaper, "Christian Beacon" on Dec 29, 1949.

Conservative in Theology, Liberal in Spirit: Modernism and the American Presbyterian Mission in Thailand, 1891-1941 (PhD thesis – PDF free download)

As an outgrowth of teaching church history in Bangkok, in 2020 I completed a Ph.D. in World Christianity at Centre for the Study of World Christianity at The University of Edinburgh. 

The title is "Conservative in Theology, Liberal in Spirit: Modernism and the American Presbyterian Mission in Thailand, 1891-1941" and a full-text PDF is now available for free download at


It is my hope that this piece of research will be both interesting and informative for both Thai Christians, missionaries to Thailand, and others who want to see the Gospel advance in Thailand and around the world.  Hopefully, this thesis will at some point appear (in modified form) as a published book.

1935 Annual Meeting of the American Presbyterian Mission in Siam Mission (Margaret and Kenneth Landon Papers (SC-38), box 348, folder 1458, Wheaton College Special Collections, Wheaton, Illinois)1935 Annual Meeting of the American Presbyterian Mission in Siam Mission (Margaret and Kenneth Landon Papers (SC-38), box 348, folder 1458, Wheaton College Special Collections, Wheaton, Illinois)

"Siam, Land of the White Elephant" - Video of American Presbyterian Mission & Thai churches, schools in 1932

In January 1932, the Publication Department of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church (USA) sent Rev. Henri R. Rabb, a missionary in India, to visit Thailand to gather footage to make a short film about Presbyterian missions there.  Arriving on Feb 2nd with his wife and 8-year-old son, Rabb visited Bangkok and Chiang Mai.  Paul Eakin, the executive secretary of the Siam Mission, assigned Rev. Paul Fuller to assist Rabb in Bangkok, and Dr. D.R. Collier to assist him in Chiang Mai.
Title Screen
Title Screen "Siam, Land of the White Elephant"
The resulting movie, linked below, was a 34-minute black-and-white silent film titled, “Siam, Land of the White Elephant”.  The first half of the film shows lots of cultural material about Thailand - elephants moving logs, women weaving, farmers threshing grain, etc. The second half of the film focuses specifically on the work of the American Presbyterian Mission in Thailand (Siam).  It includes many mission institutions and churches, including McKean's leper colony in Chiang Mai, McCormick Hospital, Prince Royal’s College, Dara Wittaya Academy, Bangkok Christian College, First Church Samray, Second Church (Bangkok), Fourth Church (Suebsampantawong), and the Loyal School (Bangkok).  We also get to see rural evangelism and a church service conducted by an older missionary couple (whom I have yet to identify) as well as a missionary (probably Paul Fuller) doing open-air evangelism at Ban Phachi train station in Ayuthaya province.  There are some Thai Christian leaders in the video as well, but unfortunately, only institutions are named in this movie, not individuals, either Thai or foreigners.
Video of Thailand in the 1920s is not plentiful and video of Thai Christians and missionaries and their work is even more difficult to find.  For that reason, I was delighted to find this video in the archives at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia and didn’t mind paying to get it digitized because I believe this short film is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of Christianity in Thailand.

English Teaching vs. Evangelism - A Lesson from 19th Century Bangkok

On August 4, 1851 a unique opportunity opened up for Mrs. Sarah Bradley and a couple of other missionary women in Bangkok. It was a chance that any missionary would have jumped at, but also one that needed to be managed well… which it wasn’t, as will be seen.

Despite the general neglect of women’s education in mid-nineteenth century Thailand, King Mongkut (Rama IV) invited Mrs. Mary Mattoon, Mrs. Sarah Bradley, and Mrs. Sarah Jones to teach English to his wives and other women in the royal palace. The king was a forward-looking and modern-minded monarch who was eager to gain Western knowledge from missionaries and other Westerners. Previously, missionary Jesse Caswell had been a private tutor to the king and as a result King Mongkut became quite adept in English and was eager for others in the royal household to learn English as well.

View of Bangkok during Mongkut's lifetime, Grand Palace shown in center
View of Bangkok during King Mongkut's lifetime (Grand Palace is shown in center)

Map of the Journeys of Daniel McGilvary in Thailand, 1860-1898

While looking through Kenneth E. Wells's book on the "History of Protestant Work in Thailand, 1828-1958" (Bangkok: Church of Christ in Thailand, 1968), I discovered inside the back cover a fold-out map of the journeys of Daniel McGilvary, considered by many to be the father of the church in Northern Thailand.  In McGilvary's autobiography, he recounts many of his evangelistic trips throughout what is now Northern Thailand and Laos, but the reader may have trouble tracking where he is going.  This handy map serves to fill that gap.


Map of the Journeys of Daniel McGilvary, 1860-1898